“Something ‘good enough’ had long since been accepted by our race.”

My friend and colleage Richard mentioned The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster to us recently. It’s a startlingly insightful short story describing a dystopic future in which all of humanity is tended to, and communicates through, one giant Machine. In its 12,000-word span it touches on a number of topics of contemporary relevance, such as dependence upon electronic communication and technology in general, the significance of direct experience (vs. second- or nth-hand accounts), the malleability of history and “fact”, religion as a psychological self-defense mechanism, and even obesity. The most startling thing is that it was written in 1909, decades before even the television was invented.

You can read it online here.

1 thought on ““Something ‘good enough’ had long since been accepted by our race.”

  1. I read this story years ago when personal computers were just coming into popularity. Thanks for reminding me of it. I’ve thought of it now & then but couldn’t remember the title. As well as the things you mention, Forster’s words about “progress” are interesting. It’s rather spooky reading, and one wonders what vision caused him to write the story.

    (I’m glad I’ve made my airship reservations for our face-to-face meeting next month. We have communicated too long on this wearisome machine, my son.)

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